Now and then you must have heard of an Italian neurosurgeon, Sergio Canavero who has stood on the notion that he can achieve the first successful human head transplant proposed to take place December this 2017. Dr Canavero maintains that the issue of head transplant shouldn’t be something that people should believe in its impossibility because it’s very possible owing to the fact that all the necessary facilities and techniques needed to do this transplant is almost fully available. Dr Sergio Canavero further maintain that him and a team of Chinese doctors at Harbin Medical Center have successfully severed and re-attached a spine in rats, which would be one of the many necessary hurdles when him and his team will be doing a head swap in humans.
To further support his claims, he said that researchers led by Xiaoping Ren at Harbin Medical University, China, have carried out a head transplant on a monkey. They connected up the blood supply between the head and the new body, but did not attempt to connect the spinal cord even though the monkey was kept alive for only 20 hours after the procedure for ethical reasons. If all these supports reality of Dr Sergio Canavero, and if he or any other doctor later succeeds in the first successful human head transplant we might be left to ask some logical questions which are listed below……
10. Are we closer to brain transplant?
Head transplant in our mind would be one of the greatest move in medical field which will in turn is likely to create a question on our greatest rival; the Brain Transplant. Since the head houses the brain, we would believe that whatever pattern was use to transplant its ‘‘house’’ invariably means that the delicate spinal cord which was one of the main stumbling block for brain transplant must have been safely bypassed; meaning that giving the procedure a little touch and advancement might lead to brain transplant,
9. How often can there be a body donor?
We all know how it takes ages to get donor body and donor individual for other organ transplant in human body. Even if the donor individual is fetched, another stumbling block is whether the donor person’s organ will match the new intended host. People who need organ transplant such as people who has been living on dialysis machines has to queue up in demand, waiting for when it will be their own turn to own any available organ coming from a donor. Even if they have the donor, one wouldn’t say it’s actually a full donor unless the donor’s organ has been medically clear to be compatible with the intending host.
For some patients who are oblige to get a family member willing to donate; this case of incompatibility is not also deniable. However in the case of head transplant, since what is needed is a whole body probably being expected to come from a Brain dead individual. This was why it’s a whole new different case from donors of other body parts since clinically confirmed brain dead patience very rarely comes by. For this reasons it might be common for people to ask how often the donors were available in this contest of head transplant.
8. Would the surgery be psychologically damaging?
The transplant of this special part of us that controls will power and our illusion of consciousness might be a whole idea that may lead to a new evolution of human being that may behave way off from human. Nobody would at first know whether the intending head when conjoined with a new body will produce some sort of specie we do see in Sci-Fiction movie. Some people who have received face or limb transplants mourn the loss of their old body part or feel that their self image is conflicted. Studies show that inputs from our body, such as a heartbeat or rumbling stomach, can influence our will power, emotions and language. Who knows whether the person who comes out of the operating room would be the same as the one who went in?
7. Could it work for a cryogenically frozen head?
Well, frozen head might be a head which has not been clinically declared brained dead, as claimed by Cryonic Companies such as Alcor life extension, but it has not yet been proven that when such head is reattached to a body that it will be reactivated which was why they were still researching and waiting for the day when nano-science will move the world in a new level such as seen in G.I.Joe movie. So no; the proposed technique requires a healthy human head and brain. It is not yet known whether it is possible to “defrost” a cryogenically frozen head and resurrect healthy brain tissue.
6. Are we now ready to conjoin two different animals?
You know one thing normally pave way for new thoughts in science. Dr Canavero though said that a head transplant has already been done on monkey (probably Robert J. White in 1965), but should we call that a head transplant since the monkey’s spinal cord was not reconnected. It would be obvious that this research, and other research of the likes of Dr Alexis Carrel in 1908 and the event of the successful human head transplant will strike and quicken the minds of modern researchers since within their eyes they experienced the first successful human head transplant.
A medical technique which would bring about the successful head transplant is not far from doing the same between other lower animals. Dr Canavero claimed that the donor body with the head will be cooled to 50 degrees Fahrenheit to slow down tissue atrophy, giving the team about an hour to perform the transplant before the brain dies. Then, both patient and donor will have their heads simultaneously removed with transparent diamond blades; once the head is lowered, it will be fused together with its new spinal cord using a chemical called polyethylene glycol, or PEG for short….So therefore a successful human head transplant signals a new idea in this case of conjoining two different animals.
The fact that most people loves to see or even own the outcomes of the manipulation of biological nature (such as seen when people loves to own high bred horses, dogs, pigs, Lion dogs, etcetera due to their difference in appearance from the normal ones) also makes it obvious that people are ready to see the result of conjoining different families of animals. It is also obvious that people will pay ransom some of money in a bid to own this kind of newly formed organisms
5. Would both combinations age at once?
We do know that it may not be a must that the head and the body donor will be of the same age. Due to age difference as we know it, people age in accordance to this age difference provided that we say to keep physical factors such as poverty and geopolitical zone constant. This question is not farfetched as people would not know whether the conjoined bodies has really meant one body or whether they are still different for the head or the body to age faster if either of them is older than the other. If at all the answer to this question was that No; bodies would not age at once, it then implies that a very healthy and young head might be sitting on an older body which will be getting weaker and weaker faster that the head as days goes by.
4. Would there be a new or separate genetic makeup?
A genetic makeup of an animal is its own forever. But however since we are talking about a head and whole body, this question will not be a bad thing to come up during that time. Having know that the brain is the seat of intelligent and the pilot of other organs and systems in the body, it may not be a bad thing for a layman to ask if the genetic makeup of the head would take over that of the whole body since it is the one that pilot the functions of every systems in the body even the circulatory systems that see to the flow of blood. Or however would there be a new one, who knows.
3. How about switching a man and a woman
To make a full body sex reassignment transformation takes months and even the series of pain one has to go to get his/her sex reassigned is another problem. On another note, the money one has to spend in going through such a surgery cannot be denied and somehow it becomes a game of those who has the money. It will not then be difficult to spot it as a question since people may believe that transferring ones head to that body of a woman or man he/she need has totally solved the problem of series of sex reassignment surgeries incurred by transgender people. Even people who have special interests like friends or spouse might even want to try new ways of living, hahaha who knows.
2. Who has the soul?
The issue of soul for those who believe has been on the argument of whether it’s in the brain or whether it’s the function of the whole being. Those who believed it’s in the brain see it as the functions of the neural network which might even disappear as we die. Those who believed it’s a function of the whole body see it as something which would still linger on when we die and the most part is that each to its own soul. Therefore the question of who has the soul is not far fetched here since some may be having doubt and confusion on which body’s soul will be the inhibitor.
1. How would the head owner bear offspring?
This to me is one of the major questions being asked even now it has not been achieved. It is known to everyone that sex organ is not attached on the head; or was it? The sex organ for both men and women are attached by nature in between their legs. It is from this zone the male human transfers his seeds which even carry his genetic makeup. The female human also as we know it receives the seeds with her eggs bearing her own genetic makeup and then houses the developing offspring.
It’s however known that it’s only these two means that humans naturally transfers their genes to have an offspring which they can called their own fresh and blood. The question is not far fetched in this contest, since even a layman would know there is no other way the head owner would naturally produce an offspring with his or her own genetic make, which would be called his/her own fresh and blood. But in another side of the game; the offspring would bear the traits of the donated male or female body.
Dr Sergio Canavero Explaining how he can achieve his claims on TED.
Written By : Francis Aneke
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